Saskatchewan books spot in Grey Cup

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November 17, 2013, CALGARY (ISN) – Darian Durant had three touchdown passes and Kory Sheets ran wild, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders stunned the Calgary Stampeders with a 35-13 win in the Western Final on Sunday in Calgary.

Kevin Glenn was pulled after the first half and the Stampeders couldn’t overcome turnover woes, and the Riders took full advantage to book their ticket to the 101st Grey Cup on home turf next weekend.

After a shaky start by the Glenn and the Stampeders that included an interception by Jermaine McElveen and another pick called back, the Stamps mounted the game’s first points on the strength of a 51-yard punt return by Brandon Smith to eventually set-up a Rene Paredes field goal.

That seemed to kick the Rider offence into gear, as a good mix of run and pass highlighted a methodical drive deep into Calgary territory.

Three completions by Durant along with three first down runs by Jock Sanders and Sheets eventually set-up a 3-yard touchdown pass to Rob Bagg, capping off a 10-play, 75-yard drive in the span of 4:10 to give the visitors a 7-3 lead.

The Stampeders moved downfield quickly in response as Glenn found Joe West for a 47-yard gain down to the Saskatchewan 28, but once again the Rider defence refused to break and the Stamps settled for another Paredes three-pointer to end the opening quarter.

Fresh off scoring the game’s first touchdown, the Green and White offence stayed consistent in its balanced attack. Six consecutive times the Riders needed second down to move the chains, and on the 12th play of the drive Durant found a wide open Chris Getzlaf just over the goal line to extend the lead to 14-6.

Glenn came up big again on the next drive with a long completion to rookie receiver Jeff Fuller for 51 yards, but the opportunity was short-lived as the ball was knocked loose after contact and the Terrell Maze recovered possession for the Riders at the 26.

While the Stamps came out unscathed, more turnover issues plagued their offence before halftime when Glenn appeared to have another long gain to Maurice Price deep into Rider territory. But Price has the ball knocked loose from behind, and the Riders took over at their 27.

A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty at the end of the play moved Saskatchewan up to the Calgary 42, and this time they’d take full advantage of their opponent’s miscue. On a second down play Durant looked deep and Weston Dressler broke away from coverage to score on a 37-yard touchdown catch, giving the Riders a commanding 22-6 lead.

The Riders came within a yard of adding to their lead before halftime, after getting an interception by Maze and subsequently moving deep into Calgary territory. But with time running out, Scott McHenry had the ball displaced from his grasp at the goal line and the Stampeders recovered to make it to halftime down 16.

Needing a boost in momentum, the Stamps opted to turn the game over to Drew Tate to begin the second half. At first though Tate’s luck was no better, as a 28-yard completion to Brad Sinopoli was negated when he fumbled the ball to Riders’ defensive back Tyron Brackenridge.

But the Stamps got a much-needed quick stop defensively, and this time their offence would respond as Joe West found himself wide open for a 46-yard touchdown pass from Tate to cut the deficit to 22-13.

Durant looked to provide an answer, first with a 36-yard gain on a highlight-reel grab by Dressler along the sidelines followed by a 20-yard completion to Getzlaf down the sideline to the Calgary 20.

That was the furthest they’d go though, as the Stampeders got the stop and managed to get their fingertips on Chris Milo’s ensuing kick, leaving the Riders with no points to show for a promising drive.

They’d get their next chance to add separation early in the fourth quarter, as the Rider rushing attack continued to tilt the field with first down runs from Sheets and Sanders, including one on third-and-two to move the chains near midfield.

The running back duo milked a little more time off the clock and eventually set-up a 12-yard Milo field goal, extending the Riders’ lead to 25-13 midway through the fourth quarter.

After being forced to punt on their next drive, disaster struck for the Stamps just as they were primed to get the ball back with four minutes remaining. Larry Taylor couldn’t handle the punt cleanly and the Riders got last touch, giving them possession deep in Calgary territory.

The Stamps’ defence stepped up again and forced Milo to settle for a 39-yarder, extending the Riders’ lead to 15 points at the three-minute warning.

Sheets put the icing on the cake and capped off a dominant playoff performance with a 30-yard dash late in the game, eventually setting up his own 1-yard touchdown plunge over the pile to make it a 35-13 game.

The 28-year-old got the best of his non-import counterpart in Jon Cornish in this one with 177 rushing yards and a touchdown, complementing Sanders’ eight rushes for 61 yards.

With that the Riders become the third straight team to play host in the Grey Cup, and will face Kent Austin’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a rematch of the 1989 final.

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